The Thar CRDe inherits the same 2.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine from the outgoing car. The trusted oil burner has not been tweaked and churns out 105bhp and 247Nm of torque while complying with the BS4 emission norms. The engine has the typical diesel clutter but being a jeep owner you won’t mind it much. The engine has loads of torque and when you slot it to the low 4x4 ratio through the Bob Warner transfer case, it has enough meat to pull you out of deep ditches or climb over steep inclines without missing as much as a beat. The gearbox is smooth and slots easily but the gear throw is quite a bit as always and if you have the handbrake pulled up, it will now hit it if you try to slot into 2nd, 4th or reverse. Most off-roaders in India swear by the off-road capabilities of the Thar facilitated by the approach angle of 44° and departure angle of 27° and a ground clearance of 200mm. The Thar now gets a mechanical rear locking differential to help you get out of sticky situations – something that we saw as one of the cars veered off-track into a ditch and was driven out.
The clutch is light but the pedal rubber is too small – especially when you expect the drivers to wear big mountain boots and drive it off road – causing wet soles to slip off. Even the side-step, sans the rubber grips, is very slippery when it is wet. The cars we were driving were equipped with the Maxxis Bighorn tyres for the off-roading session and since we drove it only at the Igatpuri off-roading Academy, I cannot really comment on its braking prowess or handling characteristics. The engine braking and control, though, is phenomenal as the car descends the steep and slippery slopes. All you have to do is trust the machine and steer it without even bothering to touch the clutch or brakes or the accelerator.
The Thar seems to be quite a package when it comes to off-roading and we would like to tell you how it feels on road when we get to test it over tarmac and real life situations.